The hiccup involves the testimony of a key witness, former Israeli security official Uzi Shaya. He was set to testify on behalf of the Wultzes that he was present for a 2005 meeting where Israel warned the Chinese government about Bank of China accounts with possible ties to terrorist groups.
Now, the Wultzes and their attorney say Israel’s government, which pushed the family to file the suit in 2008, is trying to block Shaya from testifying in order to bolster Israeli relations with China.
“We’re going to win this case, with or without Israel’s help,” Tuly Wultz said this month.
Israel initially prompted the Wultzes to pursue the Bank of China lawsuit because, as the only U.S. citizens who lost a family member in the April 17, 2006, bombing outside the Tel Aviv restaurant, they could file the case in America, with the country’s substantial anti-terrorism laws.
“The Wultzes did not get into this on their own,” said the family’s attorney, Lee Wolosky, who previously helped lead U.S. counterterrorism efforts under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. “After they lost their son, they were contacted by the Israeli government, which encouraged them to bring this lawsuit. It’s not like they were just sitting in Weston and all of a sudden they received specific Bank of China account numbers that showed money going to terrorists. They had substantial help from the Israeli government.”
Israel did an about-face, Wolosky said, when the Chinese threatened to cancel Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s state visit to China in May. Since then, the question of whether Israel would allow Shaya to testify has been up in the air.
A spokesman for Israel’s Consulate General in Miami declined to discuss the case. Bank of China said through its attorney that it denies the South Florida family’s allegations that the bank did business with known terrorists.